The Facebook *Controversy*- Somervell County Hospital District 7/2014


The Facebook *Controversy*- Somervell County Hospital District 7/2014

2 August 2014 at 2:47:20 PM

The opinions expressed below are STRICTLY my own and nobody elses

I don't personally care about Facebook. I think it's a pretty awful type of social media, particularly was disgusted recently when I read that Facebook was manipulating people's emotions through an unauthorized experiment. I also think the fact that the hospital is paying to fix up their website so that there is ONE place to look for all the activity, including minutes, video, audio, information about the hospital, etc, that that is a great use of taxpayer money, and there is no requirement that people who don't want to have an account have to get one just to look at public data. The same can't be said for Facebook, which, in its terms of service, lets you know they plan to take your data and sell it to advertisers, etc; every thing you post or discuss or like is fodder for compiling a profile of you so that you can be primed to buy stuff. A lot of people do care about Facebook, however,and to me, the line that has to be drawn is when someone who represents a taxpayer entity engages in partisan political activity. That happened during the hospital district formation election.  Here was a post Paul Harper did, on Somervell County Salon, in May 2014, before the election, where he did an open records request to the hospital asking for Glen Rose Medical Center Facebook logs. I recall at the time that the person who was in charge of posting to the Glen Rose Medical Center had engaged in partisan activity, using Facebook to take a position WHILE THE ELECTION SEASON was going on. I requested the email that Mr Harper sent to the board this week that includes screen shots of what was done. Following is that email. 

From: Paul Harper
Sent: ‎8/‎1/‎2014 9:28 AM
To: Dr. Karen Burroughs; Ron Hankins; Brett Nabors; Chip Harrison; John Parker
Cc: Ray Reynolds (
Subject: GRMC Facebook political activity

Just for the's an example of what I described last evening.

Quick reference for supreme court ruling on the issue:
" The court equated the “likes” as the equivalent of putting up a political sign in your yard"


and here is the attachment that was in that email in a DOC file,document properties show this was created 3/3/2014 at 4:12 pm.

Here we have a screen shot of the local newspaper facebook page where there are comments about the Hospital District election.

Now here are a couple screen shots of the Official Glen Rose Medical Center Facebook Account liking the political comments from that same page above thereby participating in political discussion (the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that Facebook likes are speech).

I'm sure anyone that looks at this can see what the fool the problem was. Should a public, taxpayer entity be taking sides during an election and using ANY social media to promote a partisan position? Heck, if someone had some deep pockets, they could sue that the election was flawed because there was an effort to taint or slant the election one way or another BY THE ENTITY INVOLVED. I suspect also that GRMC could lose its 501c3 status for engaging in political activity. So, at least to me, anyone that wants to say that Mr Harper was not in the right to be concerned about this going on, is flat out wrong. 

There's also a kind of hilarious irony here. GRMC was not initially making sure that THEY saved, backed up, deleted, etc the Facebook page. In fact, as you see above, Mr Harper asked them for their electronic logs and they didn't even know how to do them. This shows that GRMC had zero concern for anything involving the Texas Open Meetings Act or the Texas Public Information Act nor any concern about whether they were jeopardizing the non-profit status of the hospital. And it's pretty obvious that NO ONE involved with the hospital was trained on how seriously to take the position of posting WHATEVER on social media.Oh, but NOW they are. Well, GOOD. They SHOULD be. This is not trivial.  

I certainly hope that the person who is charge of the Facebook page gets training on the Texas Open Meetings Act and Texas Public Information Act, as well as instruction on being a non-profit,  so that he or she can be sure that they are not violating Texas law. It isn't like you or me having a FB page and doing whatever, it's a whole different ball of wax. 


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